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Religious Texts/Poetry
Instructor: Alvin Thomas Ethington (AlvinTEthington)
Only $99.00
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Start Date: Sunday, May 1st, 2011
Duration: Not Specified
Class Size: 7 Students
Seats Left: 1

This class will be a chance to learn from the instructor and the other students the role of religious texts in the world's faith traditions and poetry. We'll concentrate on the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and spend a week on Asian texts. (Texts play a lesser role in Asian religions than in the religions of the children of Abraham.) We'll deepen our understanding of the world's religious texts and how they can influence our poetry. We'll learn together to write aesthetic poetry in praise of the Divine, however we define (or divine!) that. No one faith stance required.

Week I--The Hebrew Bible

What is the Hebrew Bible? What are its constituent parts? Why is Torah more important? Where do we find poetry in Torah? What is the role of poetry in the Writings? What are the literary devices used in Hebrew Biblical poetry? How can one particular Biblical text influence our poetry?

Students will have an opportunity to analyze in depth one piece of poetry from the Hebrew Bible and to write a poem of their own based on the content and style of the Hebrew Bible.

Week II--The Christian Scriptures

What are the Christian Scriptures? Why is the Christian Old Testament not the same as the Hebrew Bible? Should we use the terms Old Testament and New Testament? Where do we find literary devices from the Hebrew Bible used in Christian Scripture? What is the role of Psalms in Christian worship and devotion? Where do poems occur in the New Testament? How can one passage from the Christian Scriptures influence our poetry?

Students will have an opportunity to analyze in depth one piece of poetry in the Christian Scriptures and write a poem based on the content and style of the Christian Scriptures.

Week III--The Qur'an

What is the Qur'an? How was it revealed? What are our preconceptions of Islam and Muslims? Are they correct? What was the role of poetry in pre-Islamic Arabia? Is the Qur'an poetry? What does the Qur'an say about poetry? How does the poetic form the ghazal arise from Qur'anic influences or does it? Does Arabic poetry have an influence on American culture, such as black hip-hop music? How do the passages from the Qur'an differ from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Scriptures about the same persons and events? How can one passage from the Qur'an influence our poetry?

Students will have an opportunity to read a section from the Qur'an in translation and also articles on the relationships between the Qur'an and poetry. Students then will have an opportunity to write a poem in a self-selected style and content that shows some connection to the Qur'an.

Week IV--Asian Religious Texts

How are Asian religious texts different from the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Scriptures, and the Qur'an? What are some examples of Asian religious texts? What are the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Dao De Jing? How do religious texts, such as the I Ching, function in Asian religions? How can one passage from an Asian religious text of the student's choice influence her or his poetry?

Students will have an opportunity to choose a passage from an Asian religious text in consultation with the instructor and write a poem on it.


Instructor: Alvin Thomas Ethington
About The Instructor: Alvin Thomas Ethington (B.A. With Highest Honors, Oberlin College, 1979; M. Div. With Honors, Yale University, 1983) is a noted teacher, writer, and reviewer. He has taught at Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, California and Triton College, River Grove, Illinois. He prepared community college students for study at major private and public four-year colleges and universities, including Pitzer College, Claremont, California; the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and the University of Illinois-Chicago campus.

He is a published author and was recently honored for his haiku. His poem "haiku (empty chair)" is on the audio tour of The Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California, Poets on Site Tour.

He specializes in languages, culture, and religion. He has substituted for the Greek instructor at California State University at Fullerton and has tutored Biblical Hebrew.

He has been a member of FanStory since 2006 and has won Reviewer of the Month six times. He has also performed pre-publication editing for the former Bishop of Los Angeles, Episcopal (The Rt. Rev. Frederick Houk Borsch) and reviewed college textbooks.

His philosophy on teaching comes from his work as a counselor--he believes that teaching should be student-centered and designs his courses according to the students' needs.


Only $99.00
Includes a free two month upgraded membership! Details
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